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Zimbabwe's Political Parties Blame Each Other For Weekend Disturbances


Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC formation has declared his candidacy for president in the election most expect will be held in 2012, just as ZANU-PF has named President Robert Mugabe its candidate for the highest office

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai confirmed Monday that it will appeal to the Southern African Development Community regarding the obstruction by police of Mr. Tsvangirai's political rallies.

This weekend police blocked rallies in Lupane and Victoria Falls, Matabeleland North province, despite a court order saying they could go ahead.

Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC formation has declared his candidacy for president in the election most observers expect will be held some time in 2012, just as ZANU-PF has named President Robert Mugabe its candidate for the highest office.

Elsewhere, Co-Minister of Home Affairs Teresa Makone, member of Parliament for Harare North, accused ZANU-PF youths of violently disrupting a rally she had planned on Sunday in Hatcliffe, charging that police later protected the perpetrators.

Political violence in Hatcliffe left five in the hospital and one person missing after clashes between ZANU-PF and MDC supporters, party officials said.

Makone expressed bitterness that her position in the Ministry of Home Affairs - which in theory oversees the Zimbabwe Republic Police - meant nothing in this situation.

If that was the case, she was asked, what was the point of being a minister in the unity government? Makone responded: “We want to demonstrate that in spite of our peaceful approach, the people we are dealing with are a violent lot and ... the onus is now on [the Southern African Development Community] and the African Union to reign in ZANU.”

ZANU-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo denied members of his party disrupted the rally, saying MDC members attacked ZANU-PF youths who were out organizing.

Gumbo accused the MDC of conjuring up reports of political violence whenever there is an international meeting under way such as the meeting of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme now under way in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“I don’t understand why the MDC should go to SADC. We are an independent country; we have to resolve our differences in here. That only shows that these people have no programs. They depend on outsiders for their political objectives,” Gumbo said.

Tsvangirai-MDC Organizing Secretary Nelson Chamisa said his party has the right to refer the matter to SADC because it is a guarantor of the Global Political Agreement.

He rejected the charge that MDC youths had instigated the latest violence.

“It’s clear what Mr. Gumbo is saying is mere parroting. We were in Bulawayo, Lupane, Nkayi, Tsholotsho and we had problems at the hands of the police. We had problems with the structures of ZANU-PF that attempted to disrupt our meetings. What they are obviously trying to do is defend the indefensible," Chamisa said.

Chamisa denied the MDC is over-reliant on SADC. He said the MDC has many options including "exhausting domestic remedies in the context of the inclusive government."

Analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya, an academic based at London’s Westminster University, said ZANU-PF has a tendency to deny even events taking place in broad daylight.

Ruhanya was asked about police restrictions on Mr. Tsvangirai. "{What it simply shows is that the MDC is a junior partner. The MDC does not have authority. The MDC does not have access to the repressive state apparatus.”

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